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Portland pummels Atlanta to end home drought

02/18/12
  1. Written by: KevinHudson  / avg. rating: 5.0


    The Portland Trail Blazers ended a four-game home skid by blowing out the Atlanta Hawks Saturday in front of 20,635 at the Rose Garden.

    The win also ended a six-game losing streak to the Hawks, which had been the longest current streak of any NBA team over the Trail Blazers.

    The difference between those six losses and Saturday night's blowout victory was tempo, according to coach Nate McMillan, which starts with point guard Raymond Felton.

    "He did a good job. I thought he got to the tempo we wanted to play. We’ve dropped six games against Atlanta and I felt like part of it was we played their tempo," McMillan said. "He consistently pushed the ball down the floor and kept pressure on their defense. Of course he made some shots tonight, but he got us to the tempo that we wanted to play."

    Portland (17-15) enjoyed the return of All-Star froward LaMarcus Aldridge, who notched his eighth double-double of the season in the victory with 19 points and 10 rebounds after missing two full games and most of a third with a sprained left ankle.

    "That’s a guy who establishes the paint for us so it gives us another option. It was good to have him in the lineup to be able to play through him," McMillan said. "But some other guys did some good things - I thought Nolan did a real nice job in his minutes off the bench tonight, Gerald defended as well as scored, Wesley knocked down some shots - so I thought it was a good team effort tonight."

    In Aldridge's absence Nicolas Batum had stepped to the forefront of the Trail Blazers offense, scoring 17 or more points in his four consecutive starts and averaging 20.6 points in his last five games. Saturday was no exception, as Batum scored a game-high 22 points while grabbing eight rebounds, an assist, a steal and a blocked shot.

    Batum pulled down a season-high-tying four offensive rebounds as Portland outrebounded Atlanta 50-27 on the night, including a 15-4 advantage in offensive rebounds that led to an 18-6 advantage in points in the paint.

    "That’s always a key for us, to rebound the ball and not assume. I think some nights we just assume that Camby is going to get the boards and guys tend to stand around. That is a key every night, to rebound the ball," McMillan said.

    Portland fell behind Atlanta 4-0 out of the gate but battled back to take a 16-13 lead on Felton's three-pointer midway through the opening period. 

    The Trail Blazers never trailed again in the contest, leading by eight points after the first quarter, fifteen points at the half, and by as many as 22 points in the game before settling for the final margin.

    Felton shot 6-of-11 from the field to finish with 14 points and a team-high eight assists.

    "Great, (he) controlled the game from start to finish, made shots, got guys easy shots," Aldridge said of Felton's performance. "I thought he showed us who he is and what he can do."

    Wesley Matthews chipped in 13 points and two steals off the bench while Kurt Thomas led the reserves with 10 rebounds, a new season high for the 39-year-old center.

    Atlanta (19-12) was led by Joe Johnson with 19 points and Josh smith threatened a triple-double by scoring 14 points while pulling down 10 boards and dishing a game-high nine assists. Willie Green led the Hawks reserves with 17 points off the bench on 7-of-9 shooting.

    The Trail Blazers travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers Monday, 7:30 p.m., at the Staples Center. The game can be seen locally and nationally on TNT. 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the play-by-play call.

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